You’ve probably heard the buzz about agile development. Agile practices are quickly catching on and replacing the traditional method of software development, but is this really the best way to design and develop software?
For those reading this who may not be fully aware of what agile development is, let me catch you up to speed. Agile development is a means of developing software in increments. Features are developed and released over time, so the software application is constantly being updated, improved, and tweaked. With traditional software development, a complete, single version is developed and released at one time based on the project’s original requirements.
Proponents of agile development point to a range of advantages this method of software design and development has over traditional software development. These advantages include:
- Better flexibility—As its name implies, agile development is…well…agile. Because the software application is developed and released in iterations over time, companies can offer feedback to the agile team regarding new features to add to the application or new directions to take with it. In short, agile development allows developers to create software that matches the current, changing needs of users. Changes are made throughout the life of the project easily and without much hassle.
- Fewer mistakes and bugs—With agile practices, fewer mistakes are made during development. Or more precisely, any mistakes and bugs present in the software are corrected quickly because development is an ongoing process. Compare this to traditional software development where users are forced to deal with the software as it is, errors and all until a new product is developed or a patch of some sort is released. Agile development uses ongoing user feedback to deliver a product that performs better.
- Faster integration—The traditional way of developing software is a very long process. Companies couldn’t start seeing a return on their software investment until the product was finally finished and implemented. With agile development, companies can start using their new applications much more quickly as features are released in intervals. This allows the company to start integrating the new software into its processes faster, and it allows for a quicker, higher return on investment.
- Continuous improvement—Agile development, by its very nature, breeds continuous improvement. As developers are learning and adapting and users are providing feedback, the product gets tweaked and improved continually. Agile teams can regularly take a look at what is working and what needs to be improved, and they can make adjustments to make future versions of the software better.
What do you think? Have you found agile development to be the best method of software development?